Week Eight: Semana Santa

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Antigua has been buzzing for the last six weeks. Alive with excitement and visitors and celebrations during this season of Lent. Lent is observed by many around the world but Antigua has a beautiful traditional of processions that weave through the cobblestone streets, celebrating various saints and events in Jesus’ life with music, oats and reenactments all throughout the six weeks. Many church members are a part of the processions, dressed in purple robes as they waft incense into the air, play music and carry the large oats, or “andas”. This brings in people from Guatemala and all over the Americas, swelling up to thousands by Semana Santa (Holy Week), leading up to Easter Sunday.

But before the procession, vibrant shades of saw dust are laid down on the cobblestone as brilliant carpets, or “alfombras”, for the procession to walk on. Blake and I woke up early on Good Friday, before people and vendors and processions filled the streets, and wandered around the streets with coffee in hand, admiring these beauties. Meticulously measured and stenciled into an array of designs, pictures and symbols, each one was different from the other. An distinct artistic expression by each group, family and business in front of their property.

 
 
First, a panel of sawdust is laid on the street, creating a at surface for the alfombra (carpet).

First, a panel of sawdust is laid on the street, creating a at surface for the alfombra (carpet).

Dyed sawdust is dusted over speci ed sections of the alfombra.

Dyed sawdust is dusted over speci ed sections of the alfombra.

Stencils cut from cardboard are laid down according to the design the makers planned ahead of time.

Stencils cut from cardboard are laid down according to the design the makers planned ahead of time.

Sawdust is carefully spooned in and patted down into the stencils.

Sawdust is carefully spooned in and patted down into the stencils.

Water is sprayed over the sawdust designs to keep it from blowing away.

Water is sprayed over the sawdust designs to keep it from blowing away.

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Alfombras are also still made in the old way, using pine needles, owers, nuts, shells, fruits, vegetables, herbs and other materials sourced from nature.

Alfombras are also still made in the old way, using pine needles, owers, nuts, shells, fruits, vegetables, herbs and other materials sourced from nature.

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My favorite kind of street food – fresh cut papaya with chili and lime!

My favorite kind of street food – fresh cut papaya with chili and lime!

Large andas ( oats) depicting events around the death of Jesus are carried by people through the streets while bands play and church members carry banners and incense. Those carrying the andas walk on the alfombras while other members walk around them.

Large andas ( oats) depicting events around the death of Jesus are carried by people through the streets while bands play and church members carry banners and incense. Those carrying the andas walk on the alfombras while other members walk around them.

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